Wine Industry Newsletter

Wine tasting workshops complete for 2021

Since October, Richard Fennessy and Yu-Yi Liao of DPIRD’s grape and wine research team have conducted wine tasting workshops in the Swan Valley, Margaret River and Great Southern. Through these events 50 producers have taken the opportunity to taste a number of trials produced from the 2021 vintage.

Emerging varieties

DPIRD partnered with a Swan Valley producer who currently has new plantings of Prosecco, Mencia and Nero d’Avola to produce small-lot wine batches (~dozen bottles) of these varieties to demonstrate their potential. The Prosecco was produced using the traditional method, the Mencia was picked at two different maturities for rosé and medium bodied red while the Nero d’Avola was made into a single batch of medium bodied red.

Overall, the Swan Valley producers who tasted these wines were excited about each of the varieties and their potential for the region. Prosecco was noted as being a strong yielding variety and tolerant to the warm/hot conditions typified by the Swan Valley. The style was seen as a perfect offering to visitors of the region and local consumers wanting an approachable fruit forward sparkling wine within the $20 - $30 price range. Discussion was had on the most commercially effective way to produce this sparkling style and the winery equipment required.

The two Mencia wines were commended and fit within a style of early drinking red wine but reviewing the pH and TA of the fruit showed some concern of the ability of this variety to retain acidity. Acknowledging that all these varieties were grown in the 2020-21 season for vegetative purposes rather than for fruit quality may have been an influencing factor. In contrast the Nero d’Avola did not require any acid adjustment and the wine quality was rated high, leading to a group consensus that this variety presents an exciting proposition for the region.

Chardonnay winemaking trial

A 200kg parcel of Chardonnay from Margaret River was split into 12 separate winemaking treatments, the purpose of this trial was to demonstrate in isolation how these techniques impact wine attributes. The treatments consisted of:

  1. ‘Control’ – following a neutral winemaking procedure this treatment represents a reference to compare the following treatments and provides the foundations to the winemaking approach for the following wines.
  2. ‘Skin contact’ – must kept at 4°C for four days before pressing.
  3. ‘Light solids’ – juice was racked to 97 NTU prior to inoculation (control was racked at 48 NTU).
  4. ‘Heavy solids’ - juice was racked to >1000 NTU prior to inoculation.
  5. ‘High fermentation temperature’ – fermented at ~23°C compared at 16°C of the control.
  6. ‘Early pick with deacidification’ – picked 11 days earlier than the control and deacidified.
  7. ‘Late pick’ – picked 12 days after the control.
  8. ‘Yeast 1’ – inoculated with Level2 Biodiva™ from Lallemand Oenology (Torulaspora delbrueckii) and QA23™.
  9. ‘Yeast 2’ – incolated with Anchor yeast product Exotics Mosaic (hybrid yeast strain of Sacch cerevisiae x Sacch paradoxus).
  10. ‘Wild ferment’ – no SO2 added at juice stage.
  11. ‘Low diacetyl MLF’ – inoculated with CHR Hansen product Viniflora® CiNe™.
  12. ‘High diacetyl MLF’ – inoculated with CHR Hansen product Viniflora® CH35.

Of the 50 producers that tasted these wines blind, there was a number of consistent preferences noted between the different regional groups. The treatments that scored well included yeast 2, wild ferment, skin contact and high diacetyl MLF. The characters that were noted on these treatments were they provided greater complexity and acid balance compared to the control.

Cabernet clones and selections

A block of Cabernet Sauvignon (clone SA126) in Margaret River was grafted over to 14 different clones and selections in 2019. The 2021 vintage provided the first opportunity to harvest fruit from this randomised and replicated block for small-lot winemaking. Each clone/selection was harvested from at least three different replicates and made into wines using a standardised winemaking procedure. The wines were presented blind to 40 producers, in terms of preferences from these groups there was a large spread but at least two groups showed some consistency identifying Roche 9-7 and SA126 as preferred clones. This work will continue into further seasons with increased measurements taken on vine performance.

Merlot clones

A Margaret River producer collaborated with DPIRD in providing fruit from three Merlot clones (D3V14, 181 and Q45) grown from separates blocks on a single vineyard. Tasting these wines with the producer groups showed the newer clones of 181 and Q45 produced riper, denser wines in the dark fruit spectrum compared to the widely planted D3V14.

Shiraz shading trial

DPIRD was provided fruit from a Frankland River vineyard that had installed shade cloth to the fruit zone on a row of Shiraz and an adjacent row without the shade cloth. The objective of the shade cloth is to minimize sun exposure and consequently reduce the incidence of berry shrivel and sun damaged fruit. Temperature data loggers were also installed in the adjacent canopies which surprisingly showed no significant differences between each other.

The impact of the shade cloth was shown to slightly slow down maturity and retain acidity. Descriptors from those who tasted the wines found the shaded wine to have more obvious spice and be of a refined elegant style compared to the richness of the control.


These workshops and the Cabernet clone/selection activity were funded via the Wine Australia Regional Program administered by Wines of WA. The following organisations are thanked for their contribution to these activities; Fogarty Wine Group, Burch Family Wines, Swinney Vineyards, Voyager Estate, Lallemand Oenology and CHR Hansen.